Digital Dash: Facebook under fire & more

1. Facebook under fire: Mark Z breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica ‘situation’
2. Fancy some good Facebook news? Here’s 3 new ad products for retailers
3. Report: top-performing companies have data-driven strategies
4. Instagram rolls out shoppable organic posts in 8 more countries
5. Google takes aim at Amazon with new pay-per-sale Shopping Actions
1. Facebook under fire: Mark Z breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica ‘situation’

Facebook is currently facing what could be its biggest scandal ever.

It all kicked off earlier this week when a Cambridge Analytica employee-turned-whistleblower made explosive revelations about how Facebook users’ data had been exploited by the company to influence the 2016 US Presidential election.

Get all the details here.

While the story quickly became huge news, causing worldwide panic and sparking a massive #deletefacebook campaign, it was a long few days before the company at the epicentre of the controversy officially responded.

On Thursday (22 March), we woke up to a statement from Mark Zuckerberg, finally addressing what he called ‘the Cambridge Analytica situation’. Slight understatement there, Mark.

The long-awaited statement from the Facebook founder and CEO was also supported by an interview with CNN.

Mr Zuckerberg acknowledged there had been a ‘breach of trust’ (interestingly not referred to as a ‘breach of data’), and said he was ‘really sorry’ and would be ‘happy’ to testify before Congress ‘if it’s the right thing to do’.

He reminded everyone that crucial steps to protect user data took place in 2014, but importantly pledged to take further action now to prevent anything like this ever happening again.

Here’s the lowdown on that:

  • All apps that had access to large amounts of information pre-2014 will be investigated
  • Any app with suspicious activity will be subject to a full audit, and will be banned if they don’t consent
  • If misuse of personally identifiable information is detected during the audit, the app will be banned and Facebook will notify all users involved
  • Developers’ data access will be restricted even further, and access will be removed completely if a user hasn’t activated the app for 3 months
  • Sign-in information will be reduced to: name, profile photo and email
  • Developers will have to get approval for access to posts or other private data
  • A tool will be added to the top of News Feed showing users which apps have access to what information, and giving them an easy way to revoke permissions

Mark also said Cambridge Analytica has been banned from using any Facebook services, and has confirmed the data has been deleted. Worryingly, that claim was also made back in 2015…


2. Fancy some good Facebook news? Here’s 3 new ad products for retailers

While 99.9% of Facebook headlines were dedicated to the above story this week, an announcement of three new ad options to help retailers drive sales didn’t go unnoticed – at least not by us.

Here’s what’s new:

Store sales optimisation: we’re really excited about this one. Advertisers will now be able to optimise ads for store sales, meaning they will be delivered to people most likely to make an in-store purchase. Facebook will leverage machine learning to help decide which users fall into this category.

Tabs for Canvas: these will help retail advertisers recreate print catalogues on mobile. When users click on a collection ad, they will be taken to a fullscreen experience featuring a personalised catalogue organised according to their interests.


Categories for dynamic ads: these will enable advertisers to reach people earlier in their shopping journey by displaying categories of items rather than specific products.

Facebook_dynamic ads categories


3. Report: top-performing companies have data-driven strategies

At SMSW Media, we’re seriously into data. You might have got that impression already from my rant about it in Digital Dash last week.

It all boils down to the importance of getting a clear picture of your customers, their behaviour and brand performance. In short, the more data you have, the more intelligent your strategy can become.

A recent study of over 500 traditional retail, pure play, consumer goods and branded manufacturing leaders from around the world has proven this to be true.

It showed that companies with stronger strategies around consumer data were more likely to be considered ‘elite’ (10% revenue increase in the past year).

Salesforce study_data vs performance

On the flip side, there was also strong correlation between companies with less sophisticated strategies, or less positive perceptions of data-driven strategies, and flat or decreasing revenue.


4. Instagram rolls out shoppable organic posts in 8 more countries

There aren’t many areas where Instagram falls short.

Advertising used to be one, but that’s improved dramatically over the past year or so.

Shopping is another; the major barrier for retailers being that they can’t include links in captions, and only one is allowed even in bios.

To be fair, the limitations are for a good reason – to protect the platform from becoming a glorified catalogue, and keep the focus on it’s core purpose: high quality visuals.

But this is of little consolation to retailers who sometimes struggle to tap into a super-engaged audience to boost their sales.

Last year, hope arrived for US brands in the form of shoppable organic posts. These allow them to tag products in posts so users can view prices, product information and also shop the items – from within the app – in just a couple of taps.

Shoppable posts also get featured in a separate tab on the main profile page, named ‘Shop’.

This is a hugely valuable feature, and now it’s finally rolling out worldwide – starting with 8 countries: the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Spain.

Instagram’s vice president of marketing Noelle Sandler reports that since launching in the US, shopping on Instagram can be directly attributed to over 1,200 orders and over 100,000 sessions. To be honest, I’m surprised the figures aren’t much bigger than that – but perhaps it’s just taking a little time for users to get used to the new feature.


5. Google takes aim at Amazon with new pay-per-sale Shopping Actions

Google says that mobile searches for ‘where to buy’ grew 85% over the past two years, showing that shoppers increasingly crave ‘immediate assistance in completing their day-to-day shopping tasks’.

What people want is a simplified and streamlined way of shopping: the more items can be ticked off the list in one shop, the better.

Amazon’s unstoppable growth has a lot to do with how well it meets this need. One website, one cart, one delivery (usually), one click, one payment – but across a huge product range (and at amazing prices!).

And, with the launch of its new Shopping Actions program, Google is upping its game in this area by creating a universal cart for products shopped through Google Assistant, Google Search or Google Express. This also spans searches that take place on desktop, mobile and even Google Home devices.

Google_shopping actionsSo someone can search for laundry detergent on (via a Sponsored Shopping Unit) and add it to their Google Express cart. Later on, they can then order kitchen towel using Google Home, add it to the same cart, and buy all the items through one Google-hosted checkout flow. Payment details are tied to a Google account, making everything quick, convenient and easy.

Participating brands can also benefit from 1-click reordering, personalised recommendations and basket-building.

Interestingly, payment is on a pay-per-sale basis, meaning businesses only pay when a purchase actually takes place.